4 Things I Learnt About Spanish Culture with Culture Smart

Spain - johan-mouchet

When planning to travel abroad, learning about the culture has never put me at a disadvantage. This time I decided to use a Culture Smart guide to learn more about the Spanish culture for my upcoming trip to Spain.

* This book was gifted to me from Culture Smart in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own. *

Spanish Culture Book

This guide gives an in depth view on Spain culturally but I would say it is not geared towards the traveler looking for travel tips and tricks for their holiday to Spain. It is catered more towards those who are either moving to Spain and will be involved in Spanish culture or those who are generally curious about Spain and want learn more about the culture in one book. You will not find out about the best spots to go to when vising Spain. As the book name suggests it is ALL about the culture.

Now that I have made that clear here are four things I have learnt from the culture smart guide about Spain.

1.Birthday Drinks are on You!

In Spain when you invite people out for your birthday the expectation would be for you to pay which is quite different to the UK, where everyone knows to bring their own wallet for a birthday. I am not sure if this is something that has changed over time but before you start inviting the world to your birthday dinner or drinks. Think twice honey.

2. Small Shops Close For Siesta

Most small shops open from 9am to 1/ 2pm then close for siesta. They will then re-open again from 5pm to 8pm. Large stores, especially in large cities do not close but stay open all day. Shops in touristy areas will have different timetables to cater to tourists. This is great because it means as a tourist your plans will not be affected by Siesta. If you are in an area that has a lot of small shops you may need to factor this in.

Siesta in Spain

3. Tipping is Not a Thing

Apparently tipping is not really a thing in Spain. Some large restaurants may add a service charge but smaller restaurants do not. It is recommended that if you feel the service was great to round up the bill to the nearest euro or leave a few extra coins. So no need to feel obliged to tip because it is not the United States! No shade!

Tipping in Spain

4. There are different languages in Spain

Although the language generally known in Spain is Spanish the correct name for Spain’s official language is Castilian. It the most widely spoken language in Spain although 30% of the population have a different first language. These languages are Catalan, Galician and Basque. Here is an example of the differences between them with saying hello. Basque is so different which I found super cool!

  • Castialn: Hola
  • Catalan: Hola
  • Galician: Ola
  • Basqe: Kaixo

Hello in Spanish

Overall Thoughts on The Guide

  • It is not a travel guide book, it is a mini guide on Spanish Culture.
  • Easy to read, although a few pages had different print to the rest of the book which some might have found annoying, I did not mind.
  • I love that it is split into sections.
  • It is nice that there are pictures even if they are black and white.
  • The guide is a nice mini size.

Culture Smart describes their guides as the essential guide to customs and cultures and I would have to agree that they teach you about customs and cultures. This guide provided me with valuable information on Spanish culture with chapters including in depth history, values and attitudes, customs and traditions, making friends, communicating and much more.

Would I recommend the guides?

I would recommend Culture Smart guides if you are intrigued by a particular country’s culture, will be relocating to another country or travel a lot to a particular country for business. It is not for general travel when people want to find out the best places to visit.

Purchase the guide: Spain: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

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Other Info

Read about my Spain Adventures in Malaga.

Find out about my time teaching English in Korea.

Need Travel Insurance? I always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance



spanish culture



  1. Ricardo Da Costa
    September 3, 2019 / 1:27 pm

    I liked this post. Very different to travel posts I usually read. Cultures vary so much, I never knew that it was the norm for the birthday boy/girl to pay for drinks loool I am somewhat surprised about the tipping, I tend to think most restaurants want tips even with the service charge.

    • heysarahtoyin
      September 4, 2019 / 10:29 pm

      Thank you šŸ™‚ Yeahhh i know! haha no pressure on tipping!

  2. September 23, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    Very interesting. Iā€™m obsessed with Spain after visiting Catalonia but many more cultures to visit and learn about.

    • heysarahtoyin
      September 25, 2019 / 1:06 am

      I really like Spain!! Where did you go? Yes more cultures to learn šŸ™‚

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